UCR UAS 2014-2015 recap. / promotional video

posted in: brandon, uav, video | 0


I haven’t been posting for a while, but I’ve been very busy with the next project surprise.  (I may be even more surprised when it works!)

But anyway, here is our yearly recap. video.  Read after the break if you want to hear exactly how I edited the video.



The video idea began a while ago when my superior (at the time) threw around the idea of making a promotional video for membership next year.  This would be the second time we have a promotional video, and we have had relatively good success with the first promotional video by Michael Smick (video below).

For whatever reason, he assigned the action to the business team.  Unfortunately, the business team has different business to attend to during the summer.  (Unlike me.)  So in a typical Brandonian manner, I decided to take matters into my own hands and create the promotional video.

Apparently, I’m still relatively qualified for video editing.  I used to do a bit in my high-school years, but I don’t remember doing anything quite this fine.  High school was a fun time.  There was a bit of a stretch to get used to Adobe Premiere while editing this video.

Video Timeline and Walkthrough

Bear in mind that I did not initially consider downloading the video (from our private storage solution of course!) to capture frames.  This should be good enough.

Screenshot from 2015-08-15 01:35:32

The beginning of the video starts out with our first (attempted) UAV.  The airframe is a modified UltraStick.  We attached our ol’ faithful e-flite 160kV motor to it, and attempted to use a tricycle landing gear.

Screenshot from 2015-08-15 01:36:16

The takeoff scene cuts to the Bourns Hαll sign.  In case you did not know, Bourns Hall B is immediately West of Winston Chung Hall (where we were previously housed).  We have no idea where the alpha came from, but thought that it was a good pun indeed.  (I’ll try not to bore you with the details.)  Higher education (except maybe some humanities fields) is famous for using the Greek alphabet for various purposes.  In engineering, we happen to use it as a variable.  More specifically to the UAV project, we use it as the angle of attack of an airfoil section.

Screenshot from 2015-08-15 01:36:44

We then continue with the abrupt “pop” of the UltraStick airframe.  This is not an autopilot error.  The pilot had difficulty pushing the airframe to the angle of attack.  This is caused by the landing gear being slightly further back from the center of gravity (CG, if you will) than is usually acceptable.  We really didn’t know much about what we were doing, and generally have a “if it works, we’re in business” mentality.  This is to be expected.

The video continues to different stills of our UAS team. (At the beginning of the year…)

The first shot has (left to right) Kevin, Cody S, Ryan, Andrew.

The second shot has Daniel and Chris.

The third shot has Chris, Andrew, Stephanie, Daniel, and Russell.

The fourth shot has Ryan?

The fifth shot has Chris.

The sixth shot has Tom.

The seventh shot has somebody’s dog.  (I’m not sure what the dog’s name is… or the name of the person at the airfield)

The eighth shot is Kevin.  (Don’t worry, he has his radio license!)

Screenshot from 2015-08-15 01:50:34

This is a shot of Kevin’s FΩ13 taking off.  It is quite a funny (and durable!) craft.  There are tallymarks on one side of the fuselage that count how many times it has crashed.

Screenshot from 2015-08-15 01:53:55

The video continues on to the actual crash of our first (almost U) AV.  I chose the most gruesome screenshot possible.

We have not determined the cause of this crash.  The wreckage was a little too bad for us to actually tell what happened, but we surmise that a loss of signal from the RC receiver (and possibly autopilot glitch) caused the plane to veer suddenly and perform its famous suicide jump.

Screenshot from 2015-08-15 02:00:06

Indeed, the wreckage was so bad that most of the main wing disintegrated and the batteries caught fire.

From left to right, you will see Andrew, Russell, Daniel, and Chris.  Kevin is our usual cameraman (when he is not busy doing something else).  (You can tell we do not have well-defined roles.)

I attempted to get the best screenshot with batteries and fire and all, but this is the best I could do.

The camera shakes a lot because Kevin was just running to the scene.  He is clearly out of breath in the stock footage (before color corrections and sound removal).

The pictures following this show blown-up batteries and us holding our thumbs up.  This is for some sort of “crash of the week” event where prizes are given out.


You can see that I finally resorted to frame capture from the final video.

In this picture, you see my head and Kevin’s FΩ13 crashing into the ground.

In the aftermath, the only thing that was broken on FΩ13 is its forward landing gear (which I assure you was a simple fix).

We basically glued it back together, and FΩ13 was good for another flight.

Up next is the image sequence from our prototype Bison airframe.  (I did not get the chance to come up with a cheesy acronym for it as I had previously done for the BISO(Network).)

I’ll simply state that the Spirit Bison was indeed hot-glued onto the front of the airframe.  (Perhaps that was why we were cursed with the eventual failure of the airframe?)


If you didn’t get a close enough look at the plane at the back of this picture, it is indeed the crashed prototype Bison airframe.  Hopefully, Tom’s smiling face put in enough emotional dissonance for the audience to be utterly confused at the rather obvious foreshadowing.

This and the following clip are meant to feature members of our UAS (Unmanned Aerial System).


Here’s Chris.  He’s on his phone and not really aware of the camera at this specific moment.

In all honesty, he puts in a lot of effort on the project in general.

I just thought it was a funny clip, and it goes with the song’s lyrics at the moment.

“you might get out …”

Here is another picture of the prototype Bison airframe.  You will notice the cameras on it which track its flight.


Yes, we do have problems with wing construction.  Basically, one wing was finished before the other one, and we have absolutely no idea how it was constructed…

And this led to two wings of different layout.  You see here that one wing generates lift before the other in low speed situations.  This led to the plane veering off course.


The camera on the prototype Bison points toward Kevin while Kevin points toward the prototype Bison.  (And the plane rolls to the left at the same time!)


Planes need rear view cameras too!


Jim did a great job landing.  We had minimal damage.

Maybe I should have done a time-dilation sequence with this.

We have yet another sequence of photos here.  In the top row (left to right), we have Jim, Daniel, and Abe.  In the middle, we have Alex.  On the bottom, we have Kevin and Tom.


It looks like my front camera hit the dirt.  I still have a bit of residual dirt on the camera after this incident.

(But it works fine in case anybody was concerned.)


Maybe I should have made this in slow motion as well?

Anyway, the only person here I don’t think I’ve introduced would probably be Brian (he has a fancy-looking camera in this shot).


And we have brought the star airframe back into the equation.

Admittedly, the telemaster is a bit difficult to handle during takeoff and landing (for the autopilot and the actual pilot).  But once it’s in the air, it’s solid (flight-wise… we may have a few structural problems).

And we have yet another photo sequence!  The only person in this sequence who has not been seen before is Rex in the red sweatshirt.  We consider him a EE/CS convertee (from Mechanical Engineering).

Oh yes, and it was also the celebration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Bourns College of Engineering.



In this clip, our student safety pilot, Satinder was probably angry or bored.

Either way, the balsa wood airframe held up.  Sometimes, I wish that I had G-measurements so that I could tell you the exact factor-of-safety passed here.


Insert power slide here.  Insert Initial-D (anime) eurobeat music here.

Sometimes, I wonder if people really understand that a tail-dragging plane is basically a statically unstable system (on the ground).  To be honest, one is expected to be the stabilizing controller in this particular situation.  It is not much different than backing up a car (except you’re in reverse all the time while taxiing.)

For more information on statically unstable systems, put your car in reverse and drive it at twenty miles per hour.  Then introduce a disturbance in the system by jerking the steering wheel one way (without correcting for it immediately).  If your car veers into the direction without correcting for itself you have successfully completed the experiment and should step on the brakes or correct for the artificial disturbance.


It’s a boy!

I believe this was an in-air transmission test of some sort.


Our ESC burned out after this.

I believe it was caused by a printed circuit board design that cannot survive lateral (or maybe superior?) forces very well.

The ESC did survive a posterior / anterior force during the prototype Bison crash.  It was only a later crash with similar ESC placement that confirmed my belief that it cannot survive lateral forces.

Oh yes, and we had the camera attached for this.


Indeed, the landing gear sheared right off, taking the camera with it.

We gambled once with the camera and lost — and now we lose again.

This also destroyed an ESC.  We tend to lose those rather quickly.

The next series of photos were taken at the competition.

My antenna tracker is also shown in these pictures.


We have our first auto/manual takeoff.  Our student safety pilot had to intervene when the plane was taking off (it did veer dangerously off course.)  (I get the feeling that the autopilot system wasn’t built for tail draggers!)


Man, this is a crusty image.  Thanks to everybody at COVEN Lab, CE-CERT, UTC, RRCC, MathWorks, ASME, and IEEE!  This project would not have been completed without you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *